Goulburn-Murray Water go for skin tests

By Tara Whitsed

Given two in three Australians will develop skin cancer by age 70, Goulburn-Murray Water put its staff under the microscope this week.

Free skin checks were offered to every G-MW employee for the second consecutive year recently, with several staff members being referred for further testing.

G-MW corporate services general manager Alan Arthur said the organisation offered the checks to all staff, regardless of being a field worker or someone who stayed indoors.

He said last year about two thirds of staff decided to take up the offer, with about 400 receiving free checks.

Peter Berger from the Skin and Cancer Foundation did the checks and said Australians were particularly at risk when it came to developing skin cancers.

‘‘The majority of Australia’s population are Anglo-Saxon with Celtic skin, which is rubbish skin,’’ Dr Berger said.

He said most skin damage occurred during the first 18 years of life.

‘‘That is why it’s very important to be putting sunscreen on children,’’ he said.

Dr Berger said people often did not realise just how deadly melanoma (the most severe type of skin cancer) could be.

‘‘More people die in Australia of melanoma than on our roads per year,’’ Dr Berger said.

‘‘14000 Australians were diagnosed last year and about 2000 will die from it.’’

He said 80 per cent of melanomas also appeared in areas that were often protected from the sun, such as the back, chest or bottom.

Mr Arthur said staff at G-MW had always worn protective clothing, but the skin cancer checks took safety a step further.

Last year’s data revealed about one in five staff members had serious skin damage and one in 10 were referred for further testing.

Mr Arthur said the organisation would be happy to share its knowledge with others thinking of doing the same or would be open to partnering with other businesses for future skin check programs.